Off shore banks must fall in line

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Government’s chief of staff and former ambassador to the United Nations, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said in Wednesday’s cabinet notes that local offshore banks will soon be governed by the same rules as local banks.
“The new rules, which are to be enforced by the threat of de-risking by correspondent banks, will now require offshore banks to be treated no differently from on-shore banks. New demands by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are being imposed by the wealthiest countries that are claiming harm to their tax base by offshore banks,” Hurst said.
He added that 13 experts, including the managers of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) and its board, officials from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and other banking experts were invited to address the cabinet on the challenges which the offshore banking sector now faces. 
He said that tax rates and transactions in local currency, amongst other requirements, would force the two groups of banks to become indistinguishable. He said the outcome would mean that offshore banks would be a creature of the past. Numerous suggestions were put forward as to how to ease the transition, including amendments to the International Business Corporation law (IBC), the Regional Banking Act, and a licensing regime by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).
Offshore banks are a vital segment of the Antigua and Barbuda economy and of other states in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). According to Hurst, offshore banks offer high income jobs to lawyers, bankers, accountants, and other experts, while connecting the states with high-net-worth individuals. The FSRC is to examine the situation and present a paper within 30 days for cabinet to review.
Antigua and Barbuda and several other Caribbean countries were listed as tax havens in legislation introduced in the U.S. state of Illinois. Prime Minister Gaston Browne and other officials condemned the listing and warned of the harmful effects that such a listing could have on the offshore banking sector of the country.  

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